Thursday, February 28, 2013

One More Day

I'm about 75% of the way through the 3rd novel's Epilogue, but it doesn't look like I'll be able to finish it before the calendar rolls over to March.  Damn close, though.

I lost a few hours of writing time today after I decided to get up in the middle night to do some work... on the 4th novel!  That's right: I've actually begun the next book before I've completed the current one!  Totally crazy.  Julie texted me last night before I went to bed, in regards to the 4th novel, and after tossing and turning, my mind spinning on that project, I finally gave in and got back up between 2:30 and 4:30 to put what I'd been thinking about into Word.  And then I slept until 11:00 a.m., missing my yoga class and getting a late start on novel # 3.  Very screwy.

Oh well... tomorrow for sure!

Thom Yorke Is Never Boring

Radiohead's lead singer and his other band, Atoms for Peace, has just released their first album, Amok.  Here are a couple videos for it, both of which I loved:




Wednesday, February 27, 2013

One More To Go

Chapter 13 is in the books, leaving only the Epilogue between me and a finished first draft of novel # 3.  I've sketched in the major plot points for the Epilogue already, so it shouldn't be too much work to do the actual writing.  If I get a good bit of steam up tomorrow after my morning yoga class, I just might be able to finish it before March arrives, which would be a very nice development indeed.

Thanks to all of the recent progress, I think I'm back on track for a late April / early May release, just like I had for No Brother of Mine.  Exciting!

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Another One Bites The Dust

I was up late last night, and then spent this afternoon writing.  The result: Chapter 12 is now complete, and I'm partway into Chapter 13 already.  That and the Epilogue are all I have left to do, and then the first draft will be done done done. 

Fingers, don't fail me now!

Monday, February 25, 2013

Chapter 11 Is Done, And The End Is In Sight!

I finally got back to working on the 3rd novel this weekend, and just minutes ago I completed Chapter 11.  That leaves me 3 more to go, but they should be among the easiest to write as I already know most of what's supposed to happen in them.  My target right now is to have the first draft done by my birthday (-ish), which only gives me 2 weeks.

Here's hoping...

Thursday, February 21, 2013

Part 2 Of The Author Interview Is Up

Head on over to Elaine's blog and give it a read!

Great Results In Toronto

I thought things went very well yesterday in the Agile 101 session I traveled to Toronto to lead, and the survey results from the attendees seem to bear that assessment out:

Effectiveness of presentation: 8.6 out of 10
Effectiveness of hands-on activity: 8.8 out of 10
Overall effectiveness as an intro to Agile: 9.2 out of 10

I had to drive through some pretty hairy weather to get there (on Tuesday night), but I guess it was worth it.

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Off To Toronto For An Agile Workshop

I've got an Agile 101 workshop to do tomorrow in The Big Smoke, which is my first out-of-town Agile engagement in almost a year and a half.  The group I'm going to see is small enough (18 people) that Vicki's services aren't required, and so she's staying home to entertain the cats and do her own contract work.  That leaves me to deal with hotel logistics and meals, which is always a daunting prospect for me but I'll manage, somehow.

[Update later that same day: And now it's snowing like crazy, which should make the drive to Toronto... interesting, to say the least.  If this ends up being my last ever blog post, I'll be really pissed.]

Monday, February 18, 2013

Birthday Fun And Games

One of the few drawbacks to the timing of our trip to Australia was that we were away for Julie's birthday this year. Now that we were back home again, though, it was time to celebrate that event, better late than never!

And so Saturday night was Julie's Birthday Bash at our place. I'd planned a series of games for her and I to compete at, with the winner of each one getting a prize that Vicki had picked up for the occasion. I'd also set it up such that Julie would get one of her birthday gifts from me after each competition... which was pretty considerate of me, since I intended to win all of the prizes and didn't want the birthday girl going home empty-handed! Vicki didn't want in on the games, but did generously agree to act as the official photographer for the evening.

First, it was a best-of-5 foosball tournament:

Through a freakish turn of events, Julie somehow won 3 foosball matches in a row, and claimed the first prize.

Then it was time for a hard-fought best-of-3 Concentration match:

A bit of brain-freeze on my part allowed Julie to win 2 games of Concentration, handing her the 2nd prize of the evening.

Next up: a best-of-3 8-ball tourney! I figured I'd clean her clock at this one, as we've owned a pool table for the past 14 years:

Julie actually managed to sink the 8-ball 3 times in a row... unfortunately for Little Miss Smarty Pants, 2 of those times she wasn't trying to sink it! I won this competition 2-to-1, without once having to sink the winning ball. Now that's what I call a successful strategy!

While we were shooting pool, Cooper cooled his heels outside, drawing the undivided attention of a certain someone:

My favourite activity of the night was something I'd created, called "Secrets & Lies". The idea was that Julie and I would take turns picking a Topic card and then telling a personal story about that topic, either the truth ("Secret") or a made up tale ("Lie"). The storyteller first placed a "Secret" or "Lie" card in an envelope on the table, and then the other person had to decide which type of story it was:

I came out on top of this competition, being able to spot Julie's lies (and truths) much better than she could identify mine.

We did one more game after that (no photo available) that was cut short when Julie drew first blood in it, but by then we'd already had a fantastic evening and moved on to calmer pursuits (talking about upcoming book plots).

All in all, it was a great party and the birthday girl seemed to have a terrific time. So  I guess it was worth the wait, after all!

Sunday, February 17, 2013

Bringing Holmes Fully Into The Public Domain

I had no idea that any part of Sherlock Holmes was still outside the public domain until I read this article about a lawsuit that's been launched to finally bring it all in. It's pretty crazy that any Holmes story would still be copyright-protected, but I guess it's no different than Mickey Mouse or some of the other big characters from the early 20th century who've had their copyrights extended again and again.  Shameful stuff, really.

Thursday, February 14, 2013

The Future Of Medicine?

Watching this clip from Rock Center with Brian Williams, did anyone else start considering the potential of the iPhone as the 21st century version of the Star Trek tricorder, like I did?

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Author Interview, Part 1

I was honoured recently to be invited to be interviewed about No Brother of Mine by a friend of a friend who's also a writer.  She sent me 10 very interesting questions about my 2nd novel, and my answers to the first 5 of them are provided in Part 1 of the interview.

Monday, February 11, 2013

Our Final Few Hours In Melbourne

We're less than 12 hours away from our 4:15 wake-up call, after which it's go-go-go from Melbourne to Sydney to L.A. to Detroit and then eventually home, thanks to brother Rich and his chauffermobile.  That's roughly 30 hours of travel to get through, once again.  It's been a fantastic trip and visit with Tammy and Ryan, and they've been outstanding hosts to us both, but I'm definitely ready to get home and see Jonesy and Emma after a 3-week absence.

Tammy and I did our final "daily workout" this morning, riding the bikes down to the river that runs through downtown (aka "The City"). 

Tammy missed about a week of exercise, thanks to the flu, but I managed to only miss about 4 days out of the 19 we were here.  At one point I was 5 pounds lighter than I'd arrived at, but our weekend driving tour, which featured way too much food and sitting in the car, undid most of that.  I may end up being down a couple pounds or so, which isn't bad for being away for 3 weeks and eating lots of big meals.

Anyway, this should be my final blog post from Melbourne, if all goes well tomorrow. 

Sunday, February 10, 2013

Winding Down Down Under

We're very nearly done our Australian trip now.  We've got one full day left - tomorrow, Monday - and then it's a quick, early (7:00 a.m.) flight Tue morning from Melbourne to Sydney before we tackle the longer trans-Pacific and then trans-American flights that will bring us home.

Over this weekend, the four of us went on a driving tour of the southeast coast.  Our first stop was a lovely beach that was perfect for wading out, and throwing a ball around in:

After that, while still-somewhat-sick Tammy slept in the car, the rest of us grabbed some lunch at a fish&chips joint:

Next up was the Gibson Steps, which we didn't count, but there were definitely a lot of them:

In that same area, you can see the famous "12 Disciples" rock formations:

Even atheists are welcome there, it turns out:

Eventually we made it to Port Campbell for the night, a sleepy little resort town:

At the edge of the very small town, there was a jetty into which the ocean roared:

After an evening of Euchre and watching Australian TV in Port Campbell, we got up this morning and made our way to the Loch Ard Gorge:

Vicki was dwarfed by some stalactite-like growths:

and then seriously misjudged either the water's intentions or how water-resistant her pants were, down in the gorge itself:

Our last major stop on the tour was the so-called London Bridge - a big slab of rock that resembled a bridge before a section of it (see left side of photo below) fell into the sea in 1990, stranding a bunch of tourists on the fully-detached side of it until they could be airlifted out:

Then it was back to The City, our cross-country adventuring done:

And all that remained, for me anyway, was to head to the gym to work off some of the 5 pounds I'd packed on during that 2-day trip!!!

Thursday, February 07, 2013

Random Updates From Melbourne

Here we are, on Tuesday morning, heading to our unbooked tennis match, full of hope and joy:

And here we are a funny minutes later, devastated by the news that the tennis courts were overrun, wild rabbit-like, by a group of women who had the unmitigated nerve to book their matches ahead of time:

Here are our tennis shoes, discarded and unloved:

Later that night...

Here's Tammy puking 9 times between 3:00 and 10:00 a.m.:

 The next day...

Here's Vicki and I, apartment-bound while Tammy sleeps, watching Bewitched and dreaming of being free:

The next next day:

Here's Vicki in the ocean, up to her armpits in salt water and killin' in a Gilligan hat:

Later that same day...

It was time to visit some fountains, both the white ones:

and the blue ones:

And that was our last 3 days...

Tomorrow we head out on the Great Ocean Road, if Tammy's well enough for it.  She ventured out to a museum/art gallery today, to test out her sea legs after being bed-ridden for 2 days.

Wednesday, February 06, 2013

Malady In Melbourne

After going to see The Impossible (starring Naomi Watts and Ewan McGregor) at the theatre last night, we came home around 11:30, all ready for a good night's sleep.  Or so we thought.

Poor Tammy woke around 3:30, and started throwing up.  We didn't hear her until a couple hours later, but before long she'd vomited half a dozen times on a half-hour frequency, and there didn't appear to be any end in sight.  She eventually got some Gravol into her, allowing her to grab a couple of hours of sleep.

Around 9:30, I headed off to Chapel Street in search of a pharmacy.  There, I was told that Hydralite was what she needed, even though I'd never heard of it before.  I bought some, along with a bottle of "Dry Ginger Ale", and returned home just hoping I hadn't screwed up my mission.

It was awhile before Tammy woke up again, but as soon as she did, Dr. Vicki got a couple Hydralite pills (mixed in cold water) into her, and Tammy immediately reported an improvement.  She said that her body responded to the liquid instantly, such that she wanted to keep drinking it.  She perked right up, as well, after downing the quarter litre of the stuff, and was able to phone Ryan at work and tell him she was feeling better.  She's been sleeping most of the day since then, ingesting another helping of Hydralite along the way.

Our plans for playing tennis in the morning and hitting the beach in the afternoon went out the window for today, but at least Tammy appears to be getting better so there's hope for the future.

Monday, February 04, 2013

A Potpourri Day In Melbourne

Today started with a 1-hr bike ride for Tammy and I, down to St. Kilda Beach. Then it was back home for SuperBowl Monday with Vicki.

When the game looked like a blowout at halftime, Vicki and I took off for lunch (at Grill'd) and a visit to a comic store (Comics 'R' Us) on Chapel Street, before returning to discover that the game had gotten close. Unfortunately, the 49ers still lost, but at least the final quarter was exciting.

This evening, the three of us trammed into The City to meet Ryan for dinner at Sea Salt, a fish & chips franchise (quite good!). Then we strolled around for awhile, taking in the sights and snapping a few pics.

Along the way, I was reminded that the first rule of Fight Club is you don't talk about Fight Club... and so putting up signs advertising its location should be completely out of the question!

Here's a shot of one of Melbourne's handsomest citizens:

And here's one of its many movie starlets, taking in the night air:

Vicki requested this shot, perhaps because they were nice enough to put her name up on one of their buildings:

And now we're back home, getting ready for our second Euchre Night.  Hopefully this one goes better than the last time, when the cheaters (aka Vicki & Ryan) won by using the underhanded tactic of outscoring poor Tammy & I.

Sunday, February 03, 2013

Catching Up In Melbourne

Due to popular demand, or at least one loud-mouthed brother, here is the catch-up on our last couple of days in Melbourne.

Saturday was Market Day, much to my everlasting horror.  We started off at Queen Victoria Market, which was, quite frankly, a zoo:

It seemed to go on forever, or maybe that was just my longstanding aversion to markets at play:

After several days spent there (or possibly slightly less than that), we went looking for lunch. There were lots of interesting choices:

Ha ha, just kidding.  Nobody actually eats there!

Instead, we ended up at a hipster hangout called Little Creatures, that was actually quite good:

We then wandered along Brunswick Street for awhile, only to be tricked into visiting a second market: the Rose Street Artist Market.  My lower back was killing me by then, as it doesn't do well 'milling about' or standing, and we'd done a lot of that already.  Tammy and Ryan purchased a few prints at this stop, but I'd lost my will to live as well as any interest in taking photos.

On Sunday, I opted to stay home and nurse my aching back rather than traveling out to the countryside with the others.

They returned several hours later, with dozens of photos.  I have no idea what any of them are of, but I can make stuff up at least as well as the next fella.

Here's Ryan and Tammy, auditioning for the Australian version of The Amazing Race.  I don't think they got picked:

Next, Vicki and Tammy watched a solar eclipse together:

Fortunately, neither of them went blind (whew!).  The kids then switched brains with a pair of six year olds, and it was all Vicki could do to get them to behave themselves:

Eventually they recovered, though not before Ryan earned an extended 'time-out' for pouring sand over Tammy's head.

After that harrowing experience, it was time for some quiet reflection:

And whatever the Hell this is:

And then they came back, and I'd written most of Chapter 9 in my 3rd novel, so who's to say which of us had more fun, eh?

And now it's SuperBowl Monday, as we spend our late morning and early afternoon taking in the battle between San Fran and the Ravens.  Go 49ers!!

Not Much Of An Update

I've been battling a bit of homesickness lately, as well as a sore lower back.  There are pictures on the camera from the last two days but I haven't gotten around to downloading them just yet.  Maybe tomorrow, while we watch the Super Bowl (on a Monday!) I'll get around to it, but no promises.

On the bright side, though, I've just finished another chapter of my 3rd novel.  Chapters 8 and 9 were both written here in Melbourne, and there may even be more to come before we get back home.  Words are flowing in that direction, at least, even if my blogging has taken a temporary hit.

Friday, February 01, 2013

A Beautiful Day In Melbourne

Tammy and I started the day off with a jog-and-walk around Albert Park, during which we had to contend with scenery like this:
We then spent part of the afternoon on Chapel Street, visiting a comic store, eating amazing burgers at Grill'd, and then hitting the Farmers Market on the way home:
After 6:00, hard-working Ryan finally got released from the salt mines (where he'd worked every night this week until 10:00 or later) and joined us in The City for dinner at an amazing outdoor Italian restaurant:
From there, we visited a downtown alley that's specifically set aside for graffiti artists to show their talents:

On our way to a souvenir shop, I spotted the rarest of the rare: a McDonald's that's actually been re-branded as "Macca's", which is what all Australians call the golden arches: 

I have no idea how that ever got approved by McD's Corporate HQ, but I guess somehow it did.  If you look beyond the two Macca's signs in that picture, you'll also see a Hungry Jack's placard.  That's really just a Burger King.  When they introduced BK to Australia, nobody ate there.  But changing the name apparently saved the franchise Down Under.  Weird, huh?

We're settled in for the evening now, and I just realized that we've reached the midway point of this trip of ours.  We've been on the road for 11 days so far, and have another 11 to go before we'll be back home with Emma, Jonesy and Lucy once again.  I think the second half is going to have to go some to match what we've seen and done so far, but who knows: maybe it'll even top it!